First there was the pedometer -- simple in design and function, but it gets the job done. Then there were health trackers that you could either clip to your pocket (a la Fitbit) or wear on your wrist (a la Jawbone, Nike Fuelband, and so on and so forth).
And now, the next stage in health tracking could come in the form of a temporary tattoo-like patch that sticks to the skin and sends health information to your phone without wires.
Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University developed the health trackers, which are soft as skin and flexible but contain wires folded similar to origami, and compared their performance with EKG and EEG monitors. They found that the trackers worked just as well as the EKG and EEG monitors, and patients found them more comfortable. The findings are published in the journal Science.
"When you measure motion on a wristwatch type device, your body is not very accurately or reliably coupled to the device," study researcher John A. Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. "Relative motion causes a lot of background noise. If you have these skin-mounted devices and an ability to locate them on multiple parts of the body, you can get a much deeper and richer set of information than would be possible with devices that are not well coupled with the skin. And that's just the beginning of the rich range of accurate measurements relevant to physiological health that are possible when you are softly and intimately integrated onto the skin."
To see a demonstration of the patch, watch the video above.